Exit Through The Gift Shop - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Exit Through The Gift Shop Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 11, 2010
A fascinating documentary about an eccentric guy who decided to film the work of street artists - which could immortalize their ephemeral art -, and it is not only a record of the movement but an amusing character study and a work that makes us question the nature and value of Art itself.
Super Reviewer
½ April 30, 2014
Banksy's directorial debut and it shows. It nears mockumentary status for how the subject of the film essentially becomes the filmmaker, but that switch comes too late to fulfill the larger narrative purpose or thesis, which isn't quite discernible either. I thought I'd be getting a film about graffiti and its status in the art world, but there is very little actual background or debate about this guerrilla art form.

The camera flashes quickly through the art pieces, not staying on any one long enough for the audience to take it in. The film is tainted by garbled and shadowed Banksy's desire for anonymous fame, and the motor is more propelled by Thierry Guetta's wild ravings and incompetent artistry than a real search for truth. This all makes me wonder whether or not Banksy even intended to make an earnest film about the legitimacy of graffiti (which seems to be what most people take away from this film), or if he actually just intended to alienate the audience with devil-may-care antics as a type of "joke's on you, this is shiite" anti-art performance piece, and if that's the case, he may have succeeded.
Market Man
Super Reviewer
½ March 16, 2013
A very interesting look into the life of street art. The film focuses on Thierry Guetta's life as a filmer and later as an "artist" under than Mr. Brainwash. He's able to achieve success with his art even though he lacks talent and it's funny (and also ridiculous) how he pulls it off. Some of the events in the film are outlandish and there has been speculation on if this is a true story or not. It's still an entertaining documentary with a good message that resonates most with artists.
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2010
A brilliant subversive commodity that brilliantly subverts the commodification of art. Wait, what do I mean? Spoilers follow... (after a statement like that, how could they not?).

Thierry Guetta has rarely let a moment of his life go unfilmed, and by coincidence - the street artist Space Invader is his cousin - he brings his obsessive zeal to bear on this particular underground, tracking down many of the biggest names for ride-alongs, filming them, and throwing the tapes in a bin... all under the premise that he's making a documentary. But Guetta is not making anything, merely documenting his unprecedented access to this specific scene - think of someone like Don Letts and the way he filmed The Clash, The Ramones, etc. And though Guetta finally manages to film Banksy, the movie he produces - at his "subjects'" urging - is, as Banksy says, "sh-t." Banksy says to Guetta, "Leave the footage with me, and go and make some of your own art," which Guetta does, under the name Mr. Brainwash (MBW), to rapid and spectacular financial success, basically by reproducing Banksy- and Warhol-style iconography in the right place, at the right time.

So what's so brilliant? Banksy manages to use the film to disown MBW, and to salvage the independence and integrity of the many street artists who might have gotten caught up in the "project," as MBW, despite his prolific ascent, has completely missed the point of street art: temporary subversion.

Though the odd piece - largely sculptures - can be saved and sold, by and large street art cannot last. Must not last. For Guetta to go into the business of "selling" street art is to expose himself as a profiteering hack, taking someone else's work and making his living off it...

...which, if you pay for this film, you are of course allowing Banksy to do. It's a rare piece from the master subversive that's intended to last, not for the purpose of selling it, but rather, for the purpose of protecting a legacy. It might be a bit mean-spirited in that it turns the knife in an admirer, and yet, I'm not sure Guetta would see it that way... this is more exposure than he'd ever otherwise have gotten, his big break, and he's all over the last half of the film, claiming with a straight face to know what he's doing with his art, almost preaching to the masses.

Effectively, Banksy is saying "We won't let you destroy us by making a movie about us - instead, we'll destroy you by making a movie about you." And yet, in its appeal to either audience - the hyper-underground or the hyper-uninitiated - the work may still fool some into thinking it's a collaboration, and as a third party, I could even be convinced it's symbiotic, in a way.

But never forget who signed this. Banksy is the subject making the film, and declaredly refusing to be the subject of it. Magnificent appropriation... of his own voice! Google "Gramsci organic intellectual" if you don't believe me. This is brilliant stuff.

(Good God: I hope the hoax rumours - that this is a mockumentary, not a documentary - aren't true. That would make me the biggest sucker of all... and nevertheless prove the film's brilliance, only more so.)
Super Reviewer
February 29, 2012
Really enjoyed the hell out of this. Worth watching, but even more so, worth discussing afterward.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ November 20, 2011
More than a documentary, it shows that any human's life can be seen as a drama. hilarious and artistic, banksy has really outdone himself with this mix of showing the artwork of other artists and himself.
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2010
Hey, if Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol can convince the world that they're legitimate, talented 'artists' then why not obsessive-compulsive Thierry Guetta, right?
Super Reviewer
October 1, 2011
A fascinating documentary about street art, or rather a documentary about a man making a documentary about street art. It's a lot funnier, more interesting, and more subversive than it actually sounds, and it leaves you with a lot to think about.
Super Reviewer
½ August 18, 2011
"The incredible true story of how the world's greatest Street Art movie was never made..."

The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world's most infamous graffiti artists at work.

A fiercely entertaining movie about one man's crusade to make a film record of the underground street art world that becomes more about the man himself than it does about the art.

Banksy, the legendary street artist and director of the documentary, tells the story of Thierry, an amateur filmmaker who makes friends with the street art community and records them at work. They like him, mostly because he's documenting for the world what they do. The ultimate catch is getting a chance to meet and record Banksy himself, which Thierry does. This seems to be what the movie is about and takes us to about the mid-way point. But then the focus shifts -- Thierry decides he wants to be an overnight street art sensation himself and stages a huge and hugely successful exhibit of his work. Never mind that most of the work was actually done by a team of hired graphic artists and carpenters and that Thierry spends more time aggressively promoting himself than he does creating any art.

At the heart of "Exit Through the Gift Shop" are some compelling questions about the legitimacy of art. The public buys into the hype and embraces Thierry as the Next Big Thing -- are they dupes or trend setters? When does art become art? When it's put on a wall or when the public endorses it? You can feel the bitterness and most probably jealousy of Banksy and the other street artists in the film practically seeping off the screen. After all, here's some anonymous guy that throws a lot of money behind a stunt that gets him instantly to a place that took them years to get to (if they get there at all).

It's hard to know how to feel about Thierry. You want to dislike him for many of the same reasons that the street artists clearly feel some animosity toward him, but at the same time it's hard to resist his infectious enthusiasm, and it's not his fault that the general public is basically pretty stupid. If he can recognize that and capitalize off of it, why shouldn't he? It's a right that belongs to all of us.
Super Reviewer
January 3, 2011
I got goosebumps from how good it was. When I heard Banksy was coming out with a movie, I had high expectations. It surpassed them.
Super Reviewer
½ April 20, 2011
'Exit Through the Gift Shop' is an enjoyable and insightful look into the world of street art, a revolutionary art form in itself. The movie collapses on itself, however, when the audience realizes that Guetta is being made into the antagonist and disrupting everything the first 2/3 of the movie stood for. It is interesting to get this inside look as to what drives this creative force and the explanations behind it. It may not be to 'brainwash', as Guetta states, but instead to remind people that the everyday things we see and know don't have to stay that way. They can be twisted and shaped into something remarkable, revolutionary, and unforgettable.
Super Reviewer
June 7, 2011
The "overnight success" is rarely a success so quickly. Not only is it possible that Thierry Guetta is a genius, it's also very apparent that he has been driven for years to document the art and artists that he comes to create and be. In that time he is absorbing the technique and the work ethic. I'd call him a master learner at the least. "Overnight success" happens all the time, and it will happen many times again. Genius or not, artists in every medium will rise at the right time and be celebrated by the culture in which they rise. And they will make a ton of money if they are popular. More power to them. As far as graffiti or street art -- or whatever you wish to call it -- I've cleaned up my fair share of it. With at least 90% of these "artists" -- really? -- I'd be ashamed to have people know that I was the "artist." It really is crap. From lousy handwriting to lousy execution, it's just plain embarrassing. Holden Caulfield says: . . . I saw another "Fuck you" on the wall. I tried to rub it off with my hand again, but this one was scratched on, with a knife or something. It wouldn't come off. It's hopeless, anyway. If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the "Fuck you" signs in the world. It's impossible. I feel that way about talentless street artists. They're a dime a dozen, and you'll never wipe out all of their atrocious work. But for that 10% or so who are actually good at it, thank you for folks who document it in photos or movies before it's gone. For me, it's always a pleasure to see great graffiti live and in person.
Super Reviewer
May 16, 2011
A very interesting documentary or well thought out hoax. Either way it is definitely worth a watch, very intriguing.
Super Reviewer
½ April 29, 2011
I can't stand Exit Through the Gift Shop. Everything about it seemed contrived, lazy, self-indulgent, turgid, pretentious. Whether it's a hoax or not I don't even care, I wanted to throw things at every single person in the film, particularly Banksy.
Super Reviewer
½ April 29, 2010
A highly entertaining look at the world of street art, obsession, and overnight celebrity; as directed by Banksy. This is one of the most wholly original documenteries I've ever seen, aswell as one of the most fun. I believe it isn't a hoax but at the same time I just don't really care. It's a great film no matter it's legitimacy (though once again I do believe it to be real).
Super Reviewer
½ March 16, 2011
A remarkable look at street art and the personalities that are addicted to it, and how these people somehow avoid the legal ramifications of an illegal act despite doing their work sometimes in plain view. This is one of the most unique films I have seen in quite some time. The direction is really top-notch here, as it sometimes becomes a documentary about making a documentary. Full of mysterious, yet still likable, people, who come across as genuinely passionate about what they do, which is hard not to love. It misses masterpiece territory by a little, but still a fine, fascinating film well worth your time.
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2010
The idea that Thierry Guetta thinks that because he watched and filmed real street artist in someway transferred him into an artist is ridiculous. The people that have "fueled" the idea he was an artist instead of shameless self promoter show the shallowness of their ability to spot art and are at best band-wagon art critics!! lol This movie is artificial acclaim and undeserved hype!
Super Reviewer
March 3, 2011
The incredible true story of how the world's greatest Street Art movie was never made...

I must start saying that I have been a fan of street art for a long time, before it even started as a trend. When i heard that this documentary was going to be about street art I got really excited, but what turned out to be was a big promotion almost an industrial vision of street artists.

This isn't a movie about Banksy, lets make that clear, but like the movie, they use his name to get promotion, this rather interesting movie about what to me is the best work of art there is, turns out to be a big disappointment when we realize that all the movie really wants is to promote these names that should be promoted, they are underground artists, and so these infiltrating new artists make of what is a underground trend something achievable by any little playboy.

Overall its a good documentary, it gives a basic insight on what street art is, however throughout the movie we are able to see the real intentions behind it, which is to sell, and thats when the movie starts to lack intrest in my opinion. I've been a fan of street art movies for a long time, there are many out there, a whole bunch of documentaries that really show what street art is all about, and the real undergroundness of it. So Exit Through The Gift Shop isn't all that good, for someone with a passion for street art like me, just to hear the words of Bansky, MBW, and other artists is really amazing, but either than that this movie is that total irony of street art.

Thierry Guetta: " I don't know how to play chess, but to me, life is like a game of chess."
Super Reviewer
February 27, 2011
4 stars
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